A staggering number of prospects will converge on Athens and Sanford Stadium this weekend as Georgia plays host to Auburn.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt couldn’t say exactly what will be the number, which includes recruits and their family and guests. But in general such weekends can range from 250 to 400.
“We’ve got a lot. It’s big. It’s very big,” Richt said this week. “It’s about what you’d expect for Georgia-Auburn. I couldn’t even tell you the number that it is. But I know as we cover the names that are coming in, not only is it a long list but it’s a list of outstanding players.”
There is a little bit of it all in this group. There will be at least five 5-star prospects on campus. There will be three players that rank No. 1 at their respective positions by at least one recruiting service — linebacker Jeff Luc (pronounced Luck) of Port St. Lucie, Fla., cornerback LaMarcus Joyner of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and safety Matt Elam of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
There will be unofficial visitors and official visitors, such as linebacker Deon Rogers and wide receiver Kenny Shaw. There will be committed prospects, uncommitted prospects and prospects that are committed elsewhere such as defensive end Corey Crawford (Clemson) and Telvin Smith (Florida State). There will be 2010 targets, 2011 targets and even 2012 targets.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the Bulldogs will be hosting so many people that it will be a challenge to give them all the attention they deserve.
“It’s going to be a day that’s going to be very difficult to manage because you want to spend time with all these people,” Richt said. “You want to let them know how much you care about them and how much you think about then. When there’s such a massive number it’s very difficult to give everybody the amount of love you feel they they deserve. But that’s a good problem to have.”
Good thing the Bulldogs have a 7 p.m. game. Richt and his coaching staff will be in full-blown recruiting mode early in the morning before shifting into game mode the last couple of hours before kickoff.
“If it’s a 12:30 kickoff it’s so difficult to get that many people where you need them and to spend the time with them,” Richt said. “A lot of times at 12 o’clock or 12:30 many of them are showing up after the ‘Dawg Walk.’ You may see them only briefly on the sideline as you’re warming up. And afterward it’s very hard for me to see anybody because of the media responsibilities and the coach’s show responsibilities that I have. So the best shot I have to see some of these young men and their families is if it is a later game.”
Georgia hasn’t had such a massive recruiting weekend since it played Auburn in 2005. That year was similar to this one in that Georgia had played the majority of the previous month or so away from Athens and had not had a comparable marquee game when it was at home. The Bulldogs have played just one game at Sanford Stadium since hosting LSU on Oct. 3 and that was Tennessee Tech last week.
“I believe that was as big as we’ve had,” Richt said. “I know that was one of the biggest we’ve ever had as far as trying to manage a large, large number of people and a large number of very highly-regarded prospects.”
That game didn’t turn out so well. Georgia lost 31-30 in a dramatic finish. But there was a happy ending in recruiting. The Bulldogs’ Class of 2006 was ranked No. 4 in the nation.